Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beaufort, N.C.: A well-deserved "Favorite Place"

Another day, another best-places list.

Travel + Leisure magazine just released the results of its 2014 "America's Favorite Places" survey. As usual with best-of lists, the methodology of this virtual beauty contest is up for grabs.

But the list does make sense: They're all wonderful places -- starting with Beaufort, N.C., a charming and good-eating town that offers visitors a mix of nature and history. (Its waterfront is shown in the AP file photo above.)

Here's the full top-25 list:

1. Beaufort, N.C.
2. Ogunquit, Maine
3. Lewisburg, W.Va.
4. Aspen, Colo.
5. Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
6. Charlottesville, Va.
7. Breckenridge, Colo.
8. Myrtle Beach
9. Paso Robles, Calif.
10. Tybee Island, Ga.
11. Bayfield, Wis.
12. Traverse City, Mich.
13. Portsmouth, N.H.
14. Pawleys Island, S.C.
15. Glenwood Springs, Colo.
16. Lake Placid, N.Y.
17. San Luis Obispo, Calif.
18. Bar Harbor, Maine
19. Gulf Shores, Ala.
20. Sonoma, Calif.
21. Hood River, Ore.
22. Estes Park, Colo.
23. Park City, Utah
24. La Jolla, Calif.
25. St. Augustine, Fla.

See any patterns?

Of these, 14 are on an ocean or one of the Great Lakes; six others are in mountain areas famed as skiing destinations.

And the five exceptions?

Lewisburg, W.Va. is an hour or more from the state's ski slopes, but is in a high-profile resort area (the famous Greenbrier resort is nearby) that has a lot of history  and culture. Lewisburg was featured this spring in a travel article in The Charlotte Observer.

Charlottesville, Va., is home to the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

San Luis Obispo is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco; it is one of California's oldest towns. Paso Robles is just to the north, is in an area with more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms.

Hood River, Ore., is a tourist magnet on the Columbia River Gorge area.

There's an after-result link where you can select your own favorite -- up to a point: Click the "Select a state" option and you'll see what towns you can vote on.

There are 32 in North Carolina; 17 in South Carolina.